[ExI] Morality Meme vs.Rationality

Kevin Freels kevin at kevinfreels.com
Sat Dec 15 05:23:12 UTC 2007

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclusive_fitness
> This is where rational for the individual and rational for the gene 
> part company.
> I make the case that this ability to identify with unrelated others 
> (say in an army unit) is because we evolved in bands where the 
> average relatedness was high enough that taking a big chance of dying 
> to defend the band was cost effective from the gene's viewpoint.
>  From the individual's viewpoint, it's not rational to die to save 
> others.  From the gene's viewpoint it is, if they are relatives and 
> the number you save in dying times the relatedness is more than 
> one.  This makes the case that brain mechanisms built by genes will, 
> under particular circumstances, induce people to think and act irrationally.
> Keith
Just to back Keith up some more (not that he needs my help), it is 
extremely important that anyone wanting to engage in a debate of this 
nature read and understand Hamilton's rule of inclusive fitness. (Thanks 
for the links Keith) It's been confirmed remarkably in a wide variety of 
animals. This isn't speculation. Keith is right on the money.

I also recommend the work that Stephen Emlen did on the white-fronted 
bee-eaters in Kenya. Also check out the work of Robert Trivers regarding 
reciprocal altruism. It's especially important to this debate. This 
isn't speculation - it's all about observations.

Bigger brains may make reciprocal altrusim even more likely because it 
allows animals such to keep track of who they did favors for and who 
"owes" them. One could then almost make the case that morality is a 
natural genetic behavior which causes and bigger brains allow some 
animals to use it in a calculating manner to accomplish what they want 
emotionally. Morality and altruism then become the base genetic behavior 
while rationalizing and reasoning memes become a learned way to take 
advantage of altrusitic individuals. (note: I am not trying to make this 
case. It just came out and may not make sense. I'll analyze it tomorrow 
when I'm not falling asleep at the keyboard.)

Of course I subscribe to my own idea that our evolved brains are simply 
a more flexible and faster reacting evolutionary device that works by 
processing memes into genes. Over time if the memes take hold and spread 
wide and far, they become such a normal part of everyday life for 
everyone that they become genetic traits. Now I have to be careful here 
before someone accuses me of being a proponent of Lamarckian evolution. 
I do not mean that the memes change the genes. Only that a successful 
meme spread broadly across a population would create an environment 
where genes that accomplish the same things could spread quickly once 
they popped up and over enough time could become the norm through 
positive feedback loops. Here we have a recipe for a rapid response 
evolutionary system. More tired nonsense? Or am I on to something? Who 
knows - going to bed.

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